Janet Monk June’21

BGC Celebrates Youth Leaders

By Janet Monk

Congratulations to Scarborough’s own Valentina Shamoun and Kowmitha Satkunarajan, winners of the BGC Canada’s (formerly Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada) Youth of the Year awards! Both women are bright young leaders and advocates for world-class issues.

Kowmitha Satkunarajan, winner of the Regional Youth of the Year award for BGC West Scarborough, was responsible for the 2019 Climate Change event at BGC West Scarborough. The event featured keynote speaker MPP Doly Begum, who spoke to local youth about climate change policies and community cleanup. In 2019, Satkunarajan was voted into the City Youth Council of Toronto where she represented Ward 20. “A couple of years ago we pushed for libraries to be open on Sundays,” said Satkunarajan. “That was essentially my first major role I had in leadership, actually advocating for youth on a platform related to real policy that influenced people’s lives on a daily basis.” Satkunarajan is currently an Impact Thought Leader for the Impact COVID Road to Recovery Project with the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity. She is studying International Development and Political Science at the University of Toronto Scarborough and is the Assistant Event Coordinator for Amnesty International UTSC. “I want to spend more time learning about the world as a whole – learning about development, relations, and affairs – to better be able to serve people, provide leadership, and become a better leader for all people regardless of where they come from.”

Valentina Shamoun, winner of both Regional Youth of the Year for BGC East Scarborough and the National Youth of the Year, is the Youth Council President at the BGC East Scarborough and a staff member for the BGC’s CET after-school program. Additionally, she is the Co-Chair of the Social Media Committee for the respite care program FOOTPRINTS 4 Autism. During the pandemic, Shamoun turned her latest artistic endeavours into a not-for-profit initiative called The Butterfly Effect. Profits from the sale of her paintings and hand-embroidered clothing go to people affected by political, economic and COVID-19 related difficulties in two regions of Northeastern Syria. She has raised money for families in need, individuals with disabilities, and even one of Al-Hesakeh’s local churches. “After hearing about how the situation has gotten really bad in Syria, back home, I decided it would be the perfect time for me to use my now abundance of time to really make a difference – and do something that I enjoy,” said Shamoun. To help grow TBF, Shamoun has recently recruited a team of youth volunteers to work over the summer. “We have a few new artists on board, lots of talented people, people who help expand or help out with the website and the payment process.” Shamoun recently graduated high school and plans to pursue a career in the medical field, but intends to continue with TBF for as long as possible. “I feel like any impact that I can make globally is life-changing elsewhere to someone else who may need it.”

~ To learn more about the Butterfly Effect https://sites.google.com/view/thebutterflyeffectproject/home?authuser=0

~ Janet Monk is an Author and Copy Editor with an HBA in Creative Writing, History, and Music and Culture from the University of Toronto – Scarborough. To make an inquiry or leave a comment, please send an email to janet.monk@alum.utoronto.ca.